The Opening Finals: Monday Top Ten Defense

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- In the final day of The Opening Finals, several defensive players made key plays that helped their 7-on-7 teams advance in elimination play and several linemen continued their strong showings.

Xavier Thomas, DE, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

Thomas served notice that he may be the nation's top defensive end. He showed strength, he showed explosion, and he played with good technique as well. He was good each and every day, including the final day, where he had a good showing in 1-on-1s. He is committed to Clemson, where he should be the next in their strong recent line of top-notch defensive linemen.

Brenton Cox, DE, Stockbridge (Ga.)

Cox, an Ohio State commit, was one of the best pure edge-rushers at the event. Quick and fluid with the frame to continue to fill in, he has great upside and will have a chance to compete early in his career as a pass rusher in Columbus.

Nolan Smith, DE, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy (2019)

The No. 1 class of 2019 recruit on Scout, Smith validated that newly-minted ranking with his performance this week. Strong, especially for a kid who was considered a weak-side defensive end, and of course, when it was time to pin his ears back and rush the passer, he did that very well too. Smith is committed to Georgia, but other schools like AlabamaClemson and more continue to give chase.

Isaac Taylor-Stuart, CB, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine

The event's fastest man, Taylor-Stuart showed he was more than just a speed guy once 7-on-7 started as he used that speed and his big, rangy frame to go and intercept passes thrown into the deep part of the secondary. Any time it was a contested ball, it seemed like he came down with it. AlabamaFlorida StateIllinoisMichiganNebraskaOhio StateOklahomaOregonUSC and others have offered in what is an open race right now.

Bookie Radley-Hiles, CB, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

Nebraska commit, Radley-Hiles made several of the flashier plays of the week, but in addition to those highlight reel moments, he was also very good at doing his job. His athleticism and ability to get up in the air and challenge bigger bodied receivers and even tight ends impressed us considering he gives up size to those guys. In a field full of "playmakers," he was one of the defensive guys who most embodied that term.

Caden Sterns, S, Cibolo (Tex.) Steele

Speaking of defensive playmakers, Sterns is a rangy safety who was opportunistic and instinctive in jumping routes and coming away with several interceptions. As he did all week, when he got his hands on those passes, he was a threat to take it back for scores, which he did in a marquee matchup with No. 1 QB Trevor Lawrence. Sterns is committed to Texas.

Bryan Addison, ATH (S), Junipero (Calif.) Serra

Addison is a great athlete. He is tall, long and as he showed here, he can play either side of the ball. He covers a lot of ground, as he showed in breaking up some passes and intercepting others. Not long after intercepting those passes, it was not uncommon to see him step over to offense and catch passes, including a touchdown today. ArizonaArizona StateMichiganNebraskaOregonUCLAWashington and USC, who has signed several Serra players in the past, are among the schools on his list.

Sevyn Banks, CB, Orlando (Fla.)

Banks, an Ohio State commit, did not duplicate Sunday's interception numbers (he had three), but he still provided excellent coverage for his team. A long, athletic corner who has good ball skills, he looks like he will fall right in line with the lineage of cornerbacks at Ohio State. He is a four-star guy, but out-played his ranking this week.

Jalen Green, CB, Houston (Tex.) Heights

Green was another guy who always seemed to be around the football and came away with quite a few interceptions this week. He has good size and is willing to play physically as well. AlabamaArkansasClemsonLSUMississippiOklahomaOklahoma StateOregonPenn StateTexas and TCU are some of the schools still on his list.

Jack Lamb, LB, Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak

This can be a tough setting for linebackers to shine, but Lamb showed he could run for a big guy and jumped several routes, knocking away passes and helping his team win the 7-on-7 title. Notre DameOregonPenn StateUCLA and Washington remain contenders in the race for his commitment.

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